Written in three weeks of creative inspiration in 1922, Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus are well known for their enigmatic power and lyrical intensity. The essays in this volume forge a new path in illuminating the philosophical significance of this late masterpiece. The volume features eight essays by philosophers, literary critics, and Rilke scholars, which approach a number of the central themes and motifs of the Sonnets as well as the significance of their formal and technical qualities. An introductory essay (coauthored by the editors) situates the book in the context of philosophical poetics, the reception of Rilke as a philosophical poet, and the place of the Sonnets in Rilke's oeuvre.
Introduction Part I. Interiority, world-disclosure, and constructivism On inwardness and place in Rilke's sonnets to Orpheus Rilke on formally disclosing the meaning of things The modernism of the sonnets to Orpheus: abstraction and figurality Part II. Death, love, and the beyond Beyond existentialism: the Orphic unity of life and death Love in paramyth: on Rilke's figuration of the Orpheus myth The feminine in Rilke's sonnets to Orpheus: a philosophy of productive deprivation Part III. Ecocriticism and animal ethics The imaginative ecology of Rilke's sonnets to Orpheus The Pozzo sonnet: Rilke and the killing of the doves.